Daughter of Abraham

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“You are part of God’s cosmic plan through which He will restore the creation—one of the ones through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Abrahams-daughterIf you grew up in Sunday School, I bet the first thing you learned about Abraham was that he had many sons, right? Let me see if I can jog your memory:

Father Abraham
Had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them
And so are you
So, let’s just praise the Lord.

The best case scenario is that you are already nodding your head, swinging your right arm, your left arm, or spinning around. (It’s infinitely adaptable for new motions, really.) Of course that is precisely the promise that God made to Abraham: many sons. The covenant was that God would bless Abraham, make His name great, and through him ultimately all the families of the earth would one day be blessed. The promise would be carried through his sons; there was no mention of a role for any of his daughters. It would seem that in God’s covenant with Abraham, Abraham’s daughters were invisible.

In Luke 13, there is an account of an invisible daughter. She is known in the text as she may have likely been within her town—as a crippled woman. Her malady is summed up in a simple phrase: “She was bent over and was quite unable to stand straight.” For 18 years, she has been stooped, unable to look anyone in the eye.

There are indications that this posture was not only a physical posture, but a spiritual one. The text ambiguously indicates she has a “spirit of weakness.” Her infirmity defined her to the world around her and to herself. She is the bent woman, the crippled lady. As a woman whose line of sight is always aimed toward the ground beneath her, she is not the sort of woman who would have had the confidence to call out to Jesus. But when Jesus sees her in the temple, he calls out for her. He tells her she is set free from her ailment. After he calls out to her, he lays his hands on her—and she is immediately healed.

The leader of the synagogue is indignant, because he says Jesus shouldn’t be healing anyone on the Sabbath. Jesus’ response is harsh (13.15: “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?”

Continuing to address the crowd, Jesus says something remarkable—he uses a title for this woman that only occurs once in the New Testament (13.16-17): “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame, and the entire crowd rejoiced at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

This woman, who previously was known only as the bent woman, the crippled woman, is the first and only person in Scripture to be referred to explicitly as a daughter of Abraham. Her identity had been wrapped up in her infirmity. Now her identity is established on the words of God Himself.

There is no indication in the text that this woman was especially pious, or had done anything remarkable to earn this distinction. In a moment, she not only receives healing, she has her God-given identity proclaimed openly before the crowd in the temple. This is Jesus assigning her identity, but moreover, showing her off as a daughter of Abraham.

I believe the same miracle that this woman experienced is available to the daughters of the earth right now. Weakness does not define you. Labels that have been assigned by others do not define you. You are daughters of Abraham, heirs of the covenant. You are part of God’s cosmic plan through which He will restore the creation—one of the ones through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed.

What Jesus says is the only thing about you that is true and the only thing that matters. Don’t let anyone else assign an identity, except Jesus. You are a daughter of Abraham–not invisible–and God wants to show you off to the world.
_____________________

Image credit: Fazdly Kamal

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Jonathan Martin
I’m Jonathan Martin, and I lead the liars, dreamers, and misfits of Renovatus: A Church for People Under Renovation, in Charlotte, NC, where I live with my wife Amanda. I’m the author of the forthcoming Prototype: What Happens When You Discover You’re More Like Jesus Than You Think from Tyndale House. I’m a product of the “Christ-haunted landscape” of the American South, sweaty revivals, and hip-hop. My main claim to fame was getting my Aquaman, Robin and Wonder Woman action figures saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost at an early age. When I talk it’s mostly about the beauty of God, what an extraordinary thing it is to be called God’s beloved, and finding new ways to be human. I am unafraid to be seen walking my small dog Cybil.
Jonathan Martin
Jonathan Martin

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